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UPDATED Tuesday 31st MARCH 2020

We appreciate and share the very real concerns about the impact of the Covid-19 virus on individuals and businesses alike. Please see details below regarding how Balens will be supporting our valued clients through this time, including specifically with regards to those with Business Interruption insurance, which has been a common query this week.

This update summarises:

Business Protection policy holders – Temporarily unoccupied premises

Business Protection policy holders - Loss of income insurance

A statement from our Chairman, David Balen

How we will maintain service - our business continuity measures

How you can help us maintain service - BACS payments and other practical steps

An Insurance Q&A - general guidance on policy cover and claims. We regret that for Business Protection policyholders there is no Loss of Income cover for Coronavirus issues, explained below.

 

Maintaining service - emergency measures

From Tuesday 24 March onward all our customer service staff will work from home, accessing our operational systems remotely. This a part of our planned, tested business continuity measures to help us trade as effectively as we possibly can during a crisis, but this is the first time we have had to implement the home working procedure on this scale.

The above, coupled with expected higher sickness absence and an (understandable) increase in enquiries mean that we are highly unlikely to maintain our usual speed and service levels. In particular, with homeworking we will have fewer staff available to handle incoming phone calls.

As a result of this:

  • Where possible we will issue renewals and all other documentation by email only. Email is preferred by most customers, we trust those who prefer postal renewals will accept email in the circumstances.
  • There may be periods within our normal business hours with limited or no telephone service. The recorded messages you get at the start of a call will advise when "phones are 'off'" or when lines are busy. You will be able to request a call-back during these times.

 

Help us to help you - practical steps that will make a big difference

We'd greatly welcome your support on these key matters:

  • Where possible, please contact us by email, not telephone. Addresses are:
  • Make renewal and other premium payments by BACS transfer. Your documents give an important BACS payment reference and instructions.
  • If you can't use BACS then use our automated telephone renewal service, again your documents will explain how. Avoid cheque payment unless you have no other way.
  • Check your inbox regularly, including spam folders, for Balens emails, particularly when approaching your renewal date. If you've changed your Email address recently let us know.
  • Use our online services as highlighted in your documents.
  • Follow our website 'News' link for updates and how our services may change as the situation develops.
  • Check our Insurance Q&A section in the first instance to try to answer cover related questions. We will update this fequently.

As always, the little things matter most, so above all please be patient and kind with our staff, thank you.

 

Insurance Q&A

This section provides high level, summary guidance on:

  • Implications for your Professional Liability & Malpractice policy, and how it may respond to negligence claims made against you,
  • Business Interruption cover (if part of your Business Protection policy)
  • Other virus-related insurance matters.

Some very important caveats:

  • This is general guidance only; individual matters arising require reference to the full terms and conditions of the relevant policy.
  • Insurance companies (irrespective of the virus) will not comment definitively on hypothetical claim scenarios. Any actual claim will be assessed in line with policy cover on its individual, specific circumstances and merits.
Professional Liability & Malpractice insurance:

Q: What cover applies to virus related claims?
A: The policy covers you against third party claims and allegations of negligently causing accidental bodily injury (which includes illness) in the course of your business. The onus will be on the claimant to prove you were negligent. Any claim will be individually judged by insurers and subject to the full policy terms and conditions.

Q: What do I do if someone makes an allegation or claim against me?
A: Report it immediately to us, preferably by email to Claims@balens.co.uk. We will support you in the normal way in getting all relevant information together for insurers. Do not admit liability. Please refer to your policy document for full claims conditions.

Q: Does my policy cover me to practice my business activities online?
A: Yes - with certain exceptions the policy will automatically provide cover for the business activities on your policy schedule when it is possible to conduct them via Skype, telephone or online consultations. All are subject to the standard terms and conditions of the policy, including the record keeping conditions that you can find in the 'Conditions' section of the policy wording.

The main exceptions, unless specifically agreed and endorsed on your policy, are:

  • Activities provided to clients in the USA and/or Canada, and
  • Cover for training resulting in the issue of a certificate of competency.

Please contact us at ComBus@balens.co.uk if you require cover for either of the above, additional information will be required.

Business Protection Insurance:

Q: Does my policy include Business Interruption/Loss of Income cover?
A: This is an optional cover section - your policy schedule will show if cover is operative.

Q: Will my policy cover me for loss of income should I need to shut my business due to the Coronavirus?
A: Regrettably no. This is the confirmed position of the UK insurer for this product, Covea Insurance plc.

The policy wording includes a clause regarding loss of income arising from "the occurrence at the premises of any outbreak of human infectious or contagious disease other than (shorthand) AIDS". Responding to our request for clarification, on 20 March, 2020, Covea confirm that, to quote, “there is no outbreak of infection or disease at the specific premises. The attendance of any person that may have contracted coronavirus at the premises is not an outbreak of disease specific to the premises. The coronavirus pandemic is an international event.…the insurance here is designed to meet a specific and isolated outbreak of disease specific to these premises such as norovirus”.

Q: The Government made announcements about business interruption insurance on 17/3/2020 - does that mean I can Claim?
A: The Government announcements do not change the cover position as per the previous questions. This is an industry-wide issue - the Association of British Insurers response to the Government announcements clarify this, which you can read at https://www.abi.org.uk/news/news-articles/2020/03/statement-on-business-insurance-and-coronavirus/

Q: Does my policy cover for any loss of income if I, or my clients, cancel appointments because of the Coronavirus?
A: No, there is no cover under the policy for loss of income or business expenses in this scenario.

Q: Will insurers extend cover for all virus-related loss of income?
A: No - given the circumstances we cannot foresee any insurer starting to offer cover at this time.

Other virus-related Q&As

Q: I have a Business Protection policy - am I covered for Employers' Liability?
A: The policy automatically includes cover for Employers' Liability. This covers claims from employees for bodily injury arising out of their employment with you. There would need to be an element of negligence attaching to you (the policy holder), for a claim to be considered. Please report any allegations to Claims@balens.co.uk immediately, and do not make any admission of liability.

Q: What is the position with Personal Accident & Sickness (Income Protection) Policies?
A: Balens predominately deal with Personal Accident & Sickness Insurance policies for individuals. These policies provide benefits should you be unable to work due to an accident and/or illness that you suffer in connection wtih your business activities. If your policy includes sickness cover and you contract Coronavirus a claim may be considered, as always, each case will be taken on its merits. We are seeking clarity from insurers should the loss arise from self-isolation without actually having the illness.

Please note we do not provide policies for mortgage protection payments, unemployment protection, redundancy, permanent health or long-term income protection

Q: I hold a different type of policy with Balens - how can I find out how it will respond relating to the Coronavirus?
A: Please email ComBus@balens.co.uk for guidance.

Q: Should I continue to run my business and offer to see clients for treatments, therapies, consultations and or advice?
A: As an insurance broker such advice exceeds our remit, regrettably we cannot comment. We know a number of professional associations are issuing guidance, if you are a member please check your association's website. We also recommend you refer to government guidelines regarding the running of your business - www.gov.uk

Q: What do I do if I think I may need to claim under my policy?
A: Notify us immediately via Claims@balens.co.uk. Claims conditions vary by policy type so please refer to your policy documents for full terms and conditions.